Justin Verlander Injury Is An Opportunity
The New York Mets got even more bad news from the starting rotation front when it was announced Justin Verlander was going to start the year on the IL. While Verlander sounds optimistic, at the moment, we do not know how long he will be on the IL.
This comes after we learned José Quintana is going to miss much of the year due to his bone graft surgery. As a result, the Mets are going to have David Peterson and Tylor Megill in the Opening Day rotation when the team understandably wanted to use them as pitching depth.
Arguably, this is a very good thing. First and foremost, it is going to allow Peterson and Megill to further establish themselves as Major League caliber starting pitchers. Remember, after this season, Carlos Carrasco will be a free agent with the Mets almost a lock not to re-sign him. That means one of these two can grab a spot in the the 2024 rotation by pitching well next year.
The other alternative is either one of them show they can’t stay in the rotation. To a certain degree, that is what happened years ago with Robert Gsellman and Seth Lugo. Both were forced to the bullpen by a mixture of the Mets then starting pitching depth and their struggles in their first full year in the rotation. Gsellman struggled while Lugo went on to become the best reliever in baseball for a stretch.
Remember, Megill and Peterson are Major League caliber pitchers. It is now incumbent on the Mets to find their best role. With the Edwin Díaz season ending surgery, the sooner we find out one is a reliever the better. Of course, that assumes one or both can’t last in the rotation, which is an unfair presumption. After all, both have had success in their limited chances in a Major League rotation.
Another factor going forward is Verlander’s age. The 40 year old has been a workhorse throughout his career, and it was one of the reasons the Mets acted quickly to sign him after Jacob deGrom signed with the Texas Rangers. Part of his being 40 is he is older and probably needs more rest than he needed 10 or even five years ago.
The innings the Mets need from Verlander are in September and October. As long as they get a fresher and healthier Verlander then, we can count his saving his arm right now as a win. Of course, that assumes he can come back at a reasonable point while the Mets stay afloat with him out of the rotation. Based upon everything, that sounds like a reasonable presumption.
In the end, we have two options. We can first throw our hands up and decry this being the same old Mets. Or, we can acknowledge that while this sucks, this may work out better for the Mets in the long run. You can pick which one you want, but no matter how you look at it, this is a great opportunity for Megill and Peterson, and it may also be for Jose Butto and Joey Lucchesi, who are the next up should any starting pitcher fail.